“We don’t want to be here,” Jon Stewart told the handful of lawmakers who showed up to watch him plead for an extension of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund last week. The former host of The Daily Show likely didn’t want to be on Fox News Sunday this Father’s Day either, but there he was making his case to Chris Wallace.
Given the subject matter, it was an understandably serious interview. However, there was one fleeting moment of levity when Wallace noted that even if the Democratic-led House passes the full bill extending health care funding through the lives of the 9/11 first responders, then it will have to go to the Senate.
Making a fearful expression, Stewart exclaimed, “The Senate!”
The comedian smiled as Wallace deduced that the “certain someone” Stewart criticized in his congressional testimony was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Have you had problems with Senator McConnell?” the Fox host asked.
“Yes,” Stewart replied. “I mean, not me personally, but in terms of getting the 9/11 bills passed, Mitch McConnell has been the white whale of this since 2010.” He said it’s the “cynicism displayed by Washington” that causes him to get so “emotional” about this particular issue.
“They asked Mitch McConnell about the testimony after it was done,” Stewart continued, “and he said, ‘Gosh’—I think he used the word ‘gosh’—‘Gosh, we haven’t looked at that in a while but we will look at it and I’m sure we’ll deal with it as compassionately as we have in the past.’”
“But I want to make it clear that this has never been dealt with compassionately by Senator McConnell,” he said. “He has always held out until the very last minute and only then, under intense lobbying and public shaming has he even deigned to move on it.”
Noting that the 9/11 first responder funding is “not a Republican-Democrat issue,” Stewart added later, “Not all Republicans oppose this, but everyone who has opposed it is a Republican. And it’s unacceptable.”
He ultimately resisted the urge to do his impression of McConnell as a turtle.